Agriculture is in the midst of a period of massive upheaval. With a backdrop of our climate crisis, soil degradation, and mass extinctions, it is clear that the way we produce food has to change. But how can farmers improve their practices? What exactly should they do? Despite all our challenges, how can we make sure we can continue to feed the world’s ever-growing population sustainably?

How IoT will benefit smart farming

We are early in the 21st century, and the use of modern technology to increase the quality and quantity of food despite a decline in agricultural land is needed more now than ever. Enter IoT!

IoT (Internet-of-Things) is a crucial aspect of smart farming – it uses state-of-the-art technology to increase land productivity, consisting of sensors, cameras, among other devices to collect farming data. This data can include plant health, mineral levels and weather conditions.

More accessible collection of crucial data through smart agricultural sensors

A lack of reliable data has been a problem when it comes to sustainable, organic farming practices. Farmers often understand the environmental benefits of agroforestry practices and other sustainable land management techniques. But knowing exactly how and where to implement them has been a challenge.

New smart farming technologies are making appropriate data available as never before. Soil monitors, satellite information and other new technologies are creating more transparency. We can quantify and measure soil health, yield and other vectors. We can highlight the reasons to change, and the benefits of changes that are made, like never before.

Thanks to sensor technology, not only can they be used to collect soil, crop and animal data but also they can track business statuses and workforce performance. Countries such as China, India and the Philippines are already encouraging the use of digital AgTech such as sensors and IoT systems amongst their young entrepreneurs and farmers, providing them with up-to-the-minute data on the environment and crops as well as consulting services.

Better control of agricultural processes

With IoT and robotics systems, farmers face fewer production risks. Food producers can make evidence-based decisions. They can identify what to sow, and when. And by connecting to centralised data services, they can share information with other farmers in their bioregion, and determine the best time to sell.

They can track anomalies on crops and animal health hence evade the loss of yields. This increased control also leads to better cost management and waste reduction. Therefore, smart farming helps farmers plan and distribute their products thoroughly ensuring there is an adequate workforce in place alongside fewer losses.

Automated services increase production quantity and quality

Automated robotics makes it easier to manage land. A lack of available labour force has often been a barrier to sustainable, organic farming. Increasing automation can potentially remove such constraints. It can also lessen land use and reduce ecosystem loss and deforestation by allowing agricultural land to become more productive.

The use of drones guided by GPS systems, IoT sensors and the arrival of 5G data for mapping climatic conditions ensures farmers can invest in the appropriate crops for specific farms. For instance, farmers have an insight into the right amount of water crops require or nutrition intake. They can develop a better feeding plan for livestock.

The AgTech industry still has a long way to go to reach a healthier, sustainable future. But thanks to data management, soil scanning and emerging farming techniques, the sector is making huge strides. Smart agriculture will play a vital role in the future of food production.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels